A day off

Today we didn’t paddle. We woke up needing to think things over. It wasn’t just the wind forecast that needed our attention. Yes, it was predicted F4 – 5, 6 later, headwind, but if we wanted, we could set off, and make a slow progress. Unfortunately there were other things on our minds, which made us feeling very low and demotivated at times.


The story is long. It started at the beginning of our kayaking. Discovering that the UK can offer not only great traditional climbing but also seakayaking, made us feel fortunate, in the end there is no sea around the Czech Republic, and never before did we think that sea kayaking would had had any chance there. How mistaken we were. It was Jeff Allen who first told us about someone, Petr Major, who was Czech and kayaked. He was actually the first Czech, or so we believe, to embark on Britain Circumnavigation. He made it over half way, from Dover to Portree. What an inspiration!
Slowly we started to be interested in what’s happening on the seakayaking scene at home. Actually there was a lot of happening, just the writing about it wasn’t as great as in the UK.
Czech people paddled in Alaska, South America, Greenland. They are making traditional, skin on frame kayaks, and fibreglass ones, too. Others are making great carbon paddles, one of which we are using now, and greenland paddles. There are symposiums and competitions. These we saw as great achievements considering the handicap.
And so, when we set off on our journey and started our blog, we thought nothing of writing it in English and Czech. We were actually thinking how cool this would be.
Such was our naivety. Already the first sings should have warned us. As you all know we needed some support to be able to pull this whole thing off. But the idea of sponsorship was widely criticised among the Czech audience. Never mind, we thought, paddling will reunite us all.
And so, half way through we are beaten up. There is such thing as a Facebook sea kayaking group, but compare to the British ones, is very quiet. Well, we said, we would do the same as with the UK one, we write something and put it up. But the Czechs are tough crowd. And all we have been hearing are harsh words, rejections and complains that we are spamming the quiet life of the group.
Patience, we thought. Opinion of just few people can’t deter us from our good intentions. But slowly more and more people are sending us rude and sometimes threatening messages. We were coping till yesterday. Then one of the leading expedition kayakers send us a response to our request of help and advice saying:”Hi Michal, I would like to help you, but I think that with your writing you have PISSED OFF many Czech kayakers. It would be better if you stop bothering people and instead of writing you would start to enjoy paddling. I am so pissed off by your spam, that I wanted to resign from the group where you’re posting. Nothing against you, but what you are doing, is not sea kayaking but WiFi paddling.”
After reading this, we have to admit, we felt lower that we would ever imagine we would feel on this trip.


28 responses

  1. I have no idea what is going on with the Czech paddling community (although it certainly doesn’t sound like much of a ‘community’), but I do know that a great many British sea kayakers have enjoyed and even been inspired by your adventures – I am one of them. Don’t lose heart, it’s your trip and your adventure – do it and enjoy however you like. Anyone who doesn’t like what you’re doing, is only allowed to pass judgement once they’ve had a serious shot at paddling around Britain themselves…

    Best wishes, Mark R

  2. Hi Michal and Natalie
    More people climb Everest every day than have ever circumnavigated Britain by kayak. What you two are doing is amazing and of course should also be fun. That you are also undertaking this incredible journey to raise money for a child who has a life threatening illness is very special.

    I don’t pretend to understand the Czech seakaying scene but that anyone could send you negative messages I find extraordinary.

    It isn’t important what a community or group of people think or say. They can after all, choose not to read what you write. What is important is how you feel about the expedition and that the cause you are raising money for is a tremendous one. I am sure all your friends and family regard you as heroes.

    Have a day off if you need, take two if you have to, but don’t give up. You have completed the toughest part of the journey – and it is all down hill after John O’Groats!

  3. Hi Michal and Natalie,

    I am sorry you are getting some bad press. I just wanted to let you know that I am reading your blog every day and alternate between envy (wish I was paddling too) and amazement at your achievements.

    I think what is important is how you feel and what the journey means to you both. It\ā€™s an incredible trip in and of itself and in raising money for Shadwell and Joshua I think you are both amazing. Virtual hugs from me and I really hope the weather turns your way and you paddle on with lighter hearts.


  4. Hi Michal and Natalie

    As has already been mentioned by Mark and Andy, its your adventure and expedition so don’t let others who may not understand put you off. Try to stay focused on your own goals. Wishing you both well for the rest of your trip.

    (we paddled together on the Sunday of Marks last SWSK meet last year)

  5. Hi Natalie and Michal,
    I love your WiFi paddleing! Thank you for sharing your adventure with me and the world. I for one look forward to receiving updates about your trip. It’s way better than another email trying to sell me Viagra!

    Emotional journeys are just as important as the physical ones and I hope in time you can draw strength from this one.

    To all the haters. Life is too short. Don’t spare your precious time thinking about them.

    Keep up the great work and have fun.


  6. Hi,
    Of all the circumnavigation attempts yours is the only one that I’m really following, I love your style, its not about breaking records, its about the journey. Keep up the great work, I for one look forwards to your continuing adventures.
    Mark G

  7. I too say the same as the previuos 3 posts, who cares what the Czech “community” think, they can choose to not read what you post. I really enjoy your posts, I’m relatively new to sea kayaking so I find them intersting and inspirational. As for the charity you are supporting, this is also amazing, I looked after my sister whith similar problems to Josh for a long time and having people like yourselves do somthing like this to help is wonderful. Keep paddleing, and keep updating us folks that are sitting in offices around the world wishing we had the ability, drive, determination and comitment to do what you two are doing, most of all enjoy it.

  8. Hey, Don’t give up, I too have enjoyed your blog, by English standards it’s not in your face……. If your Czech friends don’t like what you are doing simply don’t post on their page…..is that possible? Good luck to you both, continue to enjoy the trip, the best is yet to come, the far, far North West.

  9. Hi Michal and Natalie

    I can understand how hurt and sad you must feel after such a rude rejection from your countrymen. I do not understand how they cannot be interested inspired and impressed by your trip. To send such a nasty message is unacceptable.
    Be happy that there are very many people in UK who are following your blog and are inspired by your adventure.
    Put the past behind you and go on positively. You are more than half way in time and distance now. The weather MUST improve and give you an easier ride across the top and down the other side.

    So get going again. Choose happiness. Have fun.


  10. Hi Natalie and Michal, I was a little sad when I read your post but also very confused at the negativity you’ve received. Like the others, I love reading your blog and alongside the respect and admiration for what your are doing, its also entertaining and informative. For example the way you have approached the big open crossing to IOM, this was not only lovely writing (from the two perspectives) but also an interesting story of the benefits in flexible route planning and how human psychology plays as much part as the weather.
    Sea kayaking, or any sport, does not benefit from a fixed model of how it should be done. Keep doing it your way for your reasons – and you certainly have my support.
    Also, how much help does wifi provide rounding Cape Wrath? Keep blogging. Alice

  11. Hi Natalie and Michal, I find it such a shame that you are experiencing such a negative response from the Czech community. May I just point out that at the moment you are part of the UK community – our community, and there are many over here who are one hundred per cent behind what you are doing and also admire what you have achieved so far. Please keep positive and do not give up now. What else will us armchair paddlers have to read about.
    All the best.


  12. Hi Natalie and Michal,

    I’ve been quietly enjoying your blog since you set off, and like many others find it inspirational, informative and entertaining. Please ignore the haters, and keep paddling, keep blogging and keep smiling šŸ™‚

    Wishing you fair winds and following seas (long overdue!),


  13. How anybody could be rude, patronising or dismissive of what you are doing is beyond me.

    You are both on the adventure of a lifetime, you are inspiring and loving people.

    Of course knowing that you are doing this to help my baby learn and play, and for local kids to learn to enjoy an appreciate the water which surrounds our island, does make me extremely bias. But I enjoy reading, hearing and following remarkable people doing remarkable things.

    Do not lose heart, there are far more people urging you both on than wanting you to stop.

    If weren’t for “wifi paddling” we would not see and enjoy your heartwarming posts or your captivating photos.

    Let them not judge lest they be judged.

    Much love

    All the Haroon’s xxxx

  14. Hi Guys,

    everyone has said it all above. I just wanted to say that after you guys staying with us in Portsmouth and seeing you paddle past us at the southern tip of Luing Island on your way up to Easdale last week as been very inspirational. We will be following in your footsteps one day and I hope that we will receive just some of the support and encouragement from UK paddlers that you have – spoken, written or just through the silent followers of your blog.

    If the Czech paddlers are complaining then don’t post onto their Facebook page – their loss. Personally, we check in every day to see how you are getting on.

    This is your journey, your paddle – do it your way as you are the ones experiencing it!

    Remember “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you”

    Keep going, we are right behind you.

    Mark & Sherril

  15. I agree with James (above.) While you’re paddling around ‘our’ shores you are on of us and we like hearing all about what’s going on (even if I don’t have time to read the blog every day.) We’re all behind you all the way at THCC; keep going.

    Charlie (Skrine)

  16. Hi Natalie & Michal

    I was so sad to hear about the reactions of some of the Czech paddlers to your blog. Working here at Shadwell, we follow the blog every day and log your progress on our map at the entrance to the Centre. Young people visiting each week will rush in and check the map to see where you have got to and to read about your latest adventures. It is the fact that they are able to directly see and read what you have done that inspires such excitement and wonder from them. By writing your blog you have made these young people a part of your amazing journey and opened new doors to what could be possible for them. Enjoy the day off and enjoy the next part of your paddle – all of us here are looking forward to reading about it!

    Jan & all the Shadwell team xx

  17. Drains and Radiators

    There are always small minded people in life who drain energy from others; sitting on the side lines, jealous, envious, having little to contribute other than negativity, doing their best to hold back and limit the aspirations of others.

    …Then there are the radiators; those that just get on with the task, pushing the limits, radiating enery and inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

    Keep on radiating guys, you’re doing a grand job…

    Best Wishes

  18. I am having a bad paddling year having been unwell, I check your blog every day and it is keeping me sane, please keep writing.

  19. So they see you paddling, they hating? Haters will always hate, you are inspiring me to great things in the future, having started paddling one year ago, a circumnavigation is now on my list of things to do, it wouldn’t be had you not been writing this blog. Don’t let them put you off, if they don’t like it then that is their problem not yours!

    Keep it up!


  20. Natalie & Michal
    Don’t let them bring you down! What you are doing is amazing and a great achievement. Hence, perhaps a few kayakers in your own country are being jealous and envious of your success. You have a huge follow up in this country. ( so far 20, 604 people have looked a your blog since your start in April.)
    Remember, you are not alone, you have lot of friends in the kayaking and non kayaking world.
    Enjoy, the rest of your expedition.
    JP & Beryl

  21. Michal and Natalie, I am sure that your friends will think only good things and have only good things to say. Do the others really matter. I hope you manage to pick your spirits up. Have a great trip, well done.

  22. Michal and Natalie – you have the spirit – do your own thing – it’s your adventure. Don’t let this get in your way, it’s a like a passing storm, get your boat ready for the move on. I have really enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to reading more.
    Best wishes

  23. Jealousy is a horrible thing, that is the only thought I have to explain why you would receive any negative comments. (No way to reach the sea…)

    Whilst I am incredibly jealous and envious that you are following your dreams, whilst all I can do is read about them, I fully support you.

    Keep up the good work, enjoy the trip and please, please, please, keep sharing your experiences, it really brightens up my day to hear about your adventures, and also is incredibly humbling for all the good work you are doing to raise money for charity.


  24. My mad friends…
    I hate you too!… but I’ve told you that already.
    I know you won’t loose heart, you’re both far too strong.


  25. Wow. I really find it hard to believe this story. It was from reading about your adventures on SixKnots that got me hooked on you guys; it’s always a pleasure to read your write-ups and it inspired me to help you guys out in any way that I could.

    Bless the Czech paddlers…. šŸ˜‰

  26. I saw your entry in the Lundy Sea Kayak Log and I have been wishing I was doing what you are doing. There are ups and downs in every journey, and when stuck in the down bits the up bits seem impossible. I agree with all the above – we British sea paddlers (or would be sea kayakers) think you are GREAT.
    Keep your chins up (and paddles)

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